The Antiquarian

"The Antiquarian"
Candela Obscura episode
"The Antiquarian" (CO3x01) thumbnail.
Episode no.Chapter 3, Episode 1
AirdateNovember 30, 2023 19:00 PT
Running time4:25:15
Links and related articles
Episode chronology
"Broken Path" (CO2x03)
"The Guardian of Groundswell" (CO3x02)
Candela Obscura

"The Antiquarian" (CO3x01) is the first episode of the third chapter of Candela Obscura. After a creature known throughout legend emerges within Newfaire, Candela Obscura rallies the only circle they believe capable of taking on this Fairen Folklore.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Part I[edit | edit source]

Silva Sarkis, a former Office of Unexplained Phenomena officer who has "gone gray", walks through the halls of Grayslate Sanatorium, trying to solve a mystery of missing patients and has been brushed off at every turn. He passes by the office of the director and sees Sister Iovar, a nun, straddling Director Greenvale. Suddenly a hand hits the window of the director's office and Silva recognizes the person hitting the window as one of the missing patients. The man's hands are bloody and covered in mud, and he then runs across the lawn. Silva hides and considers his options; he's unsure if he can solve the mystery, but he thinks he might be able to escape the Sanatorium. He manages to do so, and rather than going to the Periphery or indeed any of the Triumvirate, he wanders The Sidle until he finds someone with a Candela Obscura pin.

It is spring, 15 years after the end of the Last Great War, and Lightkeeper Nokari meets in The Antiquarian, an occult bookstore, with its owner, Cosmo Grimm. Cosmo is 97 years old and uses a wheelchair, and is a longstanding member of Candela Obscura. His shop is tended to by Eloise, a retired member. Nokari insistently tells Cosmo that he needs to retire; his limited mobility makes it difficult to be in the field and his knowledge of the occult is too important to lose. While Nokari recognizes Cosmo appears to be working towards an unknown goal, they tell him that this is will be his final circle, after which he must become a Lightkeeper or otherwise retire. They then tell Cosmo the circle will be either people Cosmo already works with plus one person specifically tied to this case, Dr. Rajan Savarimuthu. Following some further discussion, Dr. Elsie Roberts, a physician in her 30s in slightly out of style fashion, somewhat disheveled from her work, enters. She remembers she had been summoned to a meeting, and goes upstairs to her rooms to clean up. As she does, Oscar Grimm also enters the shop. Oscar is a solidly built, heavily scarred well-dressed man. Nokari's gaze at Oscar seems slightly cold, and the two discuss the Lightkeeper role; Nokari seems frustrated at Oscar's pugnaciousness, and Oscar seems unfamiliar with the details of Candela. Cosmo refers to Oscar as his grandson. Elsie joins them, and she and the Grimms discuss Oscar's imminent induction into the circle in a friendly manner. When Nokari mentions there will be others in the circle, Elsie becomes concerned and Nokari realizes she has only worked in smaller circles; but they tell her that this circle is being created at Cosmo's behest, with an additional member with relevant connections to the case.

At this, Rajan, a well-dressed man wearing gloves, with scars on one side of his face and runic tattoos on the other, enters and indicates he is both familiar with Cosmo and with Elsie, who is taken aback by him being here. Rajan is a professor of archaology at Briar Bank College. Elsie asks to speak to Cosmo in private, and he agrees. Meanwhile, Oscar and Rajan make conversation, and Madam Cordelia Glask enters the room; she is a glamorous woman in a ballgown and jewels and fur, and the proprietor of the Glass Cat Casino, as well as Oscar's employer. She and Rajan introduce each other. Nokari updates Rajan and Cordelia on the situation, and after they have an awkward interaction with Eloise, offers to make tea. Meanwhile, Elsie tensely reminds Cosmo of her "condition", and he tells her that he can vouch for everyone, and that this will be his last mission. She hesitantly agrees, provided Cosmo can keep things calm, especially between her and Raj, whom she knows. They return to the others, Cosmo picking up his dachsund, Godot, as he does. Madam Glask greets him familiarly and warmly. With everyone assembled, Nokari declares the creation of the Circle of Tide & Bone. They recount Silva's experience, and tell them that Silva is present and can answer further questions.

Madam Glask attempts to calm down Silva, who is very skittish. Rajan is immediately affected by the intense amount of Bleed coming off him. Elsie immediately notices he is badly affected and suggests he go inside, but he declines. Silva explains his experience at Grayslate, describing Sister Iovar and the Director, as well as Sister Iovar's history of being around people who disappear from Grayslate and the fact that she doesn't seem to sleep. He describes Johnny, the patient who hit the window and ran across the grounds, and provides information about the grounds of Grayslate as well as Johnny's strange behavior. Cosmo realizes that Silva is acting on a strong hunch with no true evidence, but is honest, and he has been convinced by others that he was unreliable. Elsie cannot find any physical harm on Silva, and Madam Glask continues to support him. Silva reveals that the OUP keeps a close eye on The Ascendancy, and they have no records of a Sister Iovar, which added to his suspicions. Cosmo suggests the circle go to Grayslate in the evening to investigate further. He then asks Rajan for his opinion.

Rajan remembers his childhood, in which a nun, Rahema, became close to the family following the death of his mother, but then his sister became a digging, monstrous creature not unlike what Silva described. He fought off Rahema, who attacked him, with a nursery rhyme his mother had told him, but his sister was lost. He knows this creature as The Great Maw. Rajan then returns to himself and asks Madam Glask if she has any clients who can help get the circle into Grayslate, and she suggests she might. They discuss where Silva can stay, given that he may be in danger, and as they do, Raj smears some Scarlet on the back of Silva's hand to help calm him down. It is successful. Silva warns the circle about Grayslate and draws a map for Cosmo when he requests, with information on where Johnny ran. Ultimately they ask Eloise to look after him.

Elsie notices that Raj looks unwell, possibly due to Scarlet, and she pulls him aside and asks him if he is okay. He says it is good to see her, but declines her help. This rattles Elsie somewhat. Meanwhile, Oscar meets Cosmo in Cosmo's study. They converse, revealing that Oscar has recently been released from prison, bailed out by Cosmo. Oscar tells Cosmo that he should be taking care of him, not the other way around, but Cosmo brushes it off. He warns Oscar that they may be under particular scrutiny, to which Oscar says that he'll be careful and handle it, and if there is any conflict, Cosmo should stay behind him. Oscar indicates he knows Cosmo wants this mission to be something special, but he is not optimistic. Cosmo tells him that Rajan is a good person. After Oscar leaves having told Cosmo to eat something, Cosmo reads through books on the history of the Ascendancy until evening.

Part II[edit | edit source]

The Circle arrives at Grayslate that evening. Oscar climbs the wall to get a view and finds it heavily patrolled and with few hiding spots; upon reporting back the Circle surmises that the heightened security may be due to Silva's escape. Elsie bandages Oscar's hands, which he injured while climbing. They discuss alternate plans as the single guard Madam Glask knows will not be able to let them all in unseen. Eventually they decide that Elsie, who prepared by dressing like a physician at the sanatorium, will push in Cosmo, who will be causing a scene, in order to get the director from her office. Madam Glask will pretend to be his granddaughter. Meanwhile, Oscar and Rajan will scale the wall.

Elsie, Cosmo, and Madam Glask carry out their plan. They are first met by Kathleen, the receptionist, but between Cosmo and Cordelia's dramatics Kathleen quickly gives in to Elsie's request and brings out Director Greenvale, as Cosmo moves away from the office. Elsie and Cosmo give false names and succeed in fooling the director into believing the attempt to commit Cosmo is legitimate, but Director Greenvale then returns to her office without Elsie being able to investigate. Madam Glask pretends to dramatically faint, and Cosmo wheels off as fast as he can. This works, and the Director emerges from her office, allowing Elsie to sneak in. She finds the office to be heavily decorated but a poor attempt to imitate opulence. It is full of a number of files, but Elsie searches for personal letters as Sister Iovar is not a Grayslate employee.

As this happens, Oscar scales the wall without difficulty, though Rajan has a slightly harder time of it and needs Oscar's help. Upon noticing the precision and number of guards, Rajan surmises that perhaps Silva was permitted to escape. The two run towards a small cluster of oak trees and find that a deep hole has been dug there, hidden by the trees. They investigate it and find it seems continue quite far down. Oscar wishes to continue, but Rajan is hesitant, at which point Oscar asks for more information. Meanwhile, Elsie, in the office, notices the small candle Rajan had lit to look at the hole when she looks out at the grounds through the windows, but does not seen any guards. She also finds a letter written in a language she does not recognizes, later revealed to be Ancient Fairen, and pockets it.

In the hallway, Cosmo has pretended to calm down slightly, and Madam Glask "comes to" as one of the orderlies slaps her face. They keep an eye on the door of the Director's office, and escalate when Elsie slips out until she rejoins them. The Director, frustrated by the commotion, kicks them out of Grayslate and with surprising strength turns Cosmo's chair towards the door. Elsie, Madam Glask, and Cosmo acquiesce and leave, their antics having pulled most of the guards from the back, leaving Rajan and Oscar free. Rajan convinces Oscar to allow him to check for Bleed, which he does by putting his hand in the soil at which point centipedes arise, agitated, and throw themselves into the hole. He recognizes this as meaning that The Maw is down below, and insists to Oscar that they wait. Oscar is impatient, but Rajan tells him they cannot take on the threat below alone, at which point Oscar agrees if Rajan tell him about his past. He tells Oscar that The Maw destroyed his sister, Aadtika. Oscar says he is sorry, and, noticing that there are no guards, decides to try to find the others by the entrance. He is able to do so without difficulty, but when he tells Elsie Raj is by the hole alone, she becomes agitated and yells for people to run before she transforms into a massive muscular, bestial creature with an orca and mantis-like face, and fog surrounds her. Oscar steps in front of Cosmo to protect him, and Elsie, in beast form, attacks him and crushes his throat. As he is killed, Oscar attempts to tell her he'll be fine. After killing him, Elsie returns to her usual self.

Oscar awakens, weightless, in a dark space. He reveals this is the seventh time he has awakened here, though he does not remember it in the real world. Every time, he must give something back and return; he cannot stay dead. He has lost many memories and abilities; he doesn't remember his second child, most information about his wife, and his ability to perform, and reveals that Cosmo is in truth his son. He loses his memories of Cosmo's childhood, and begins to return to life, with a sensation of melted gold being poured into him. Before he does, Madam Glask holds his body and frantically shouts for him to wake up and asks Elsie what she did, as Cosmo attempts to comfort her, speaking in an ancient language, and tells her it will be alright. Raj, who had run over when he saw the fog and heard Elsie's scream, arrives to find Madam Glask accusing Elsie. Cosmo attempts to de-escalate, as Oscar comes back to life, his spine healing itself. Cosmo continues to try to calm everyone and Elsie asks how Oscar came back. Oscar tells her he doesn't know, but they should move, and then embraces Cosmo and reassures him that he is alright. He apologizes to Cosmo for being a burden, to which Cosmo tells him it is not. Oscar then again tells the Circle to move, but Madam Glask doesn't trust Elsie. However, she also realizes that Oscar is right and their location is likely revealed. Raj is also hesitant to continue and wants to leave and come back at a later time, and Madam Glask is angry that Elsie had been at her casino and treated her workers with this condition. However, she decides to trust Cosmo.

The Circle ultimately goes back into the grounds and climbs into the hole, and eventually make it into what appears to be an Oldfairen structure. Cosmo realizes that he is not familiar with this part of Oldfaire. The rest notice five dead bodies in this tunnel, all patients of Grayslate and all with ruined or broken fingers much like Silva had described Johnny as having. They can hear more sounds of digging and scraping, very loudly, around a corner. Rajan provides some background to the circle on what is happening: his sister was similarly overpowered and controlled. One Oldfairen weapon was a form of venomous, flesh-eating locusts that would induce famine in the lands of their enemies. The despair of the starving orphans that resulted from this weaponry gave rise to The Great Maw, an insectoid horror who uses people's fears against them. Cosmo pulls out his bleed detector, an ancient jawbone, but the sense of bleed is overpowering and doesn't require detection.

Madam Glask is still mistrustful of Elsie, who acknowledges that she should provide an explanation. She tells the Circle that she has cullet, a degenerative lung disease that first appeared about seven years ago, so named for the sensation of broken glass within the patients' lungs. Elsie began researching it for wealthy clients who did not want to be associated with what they saw as a disease of poverty, and in doing so fell ill. She began to experiment on herself, which led to her bestial nature. She has since spent her time in Candela only around the Grimms because she is aware she is dangerous. Oscar defends her to Madam Glask, saying she is a victim. Cosmo meanwhile attempts to look around, as the digging noises change to a thudding sound, and sees three people, one man, one woman dressed as a beautiful nun, and one an enthralled Grayslate patient, all hurling themselves at a stone wall. Cosmo recognizes the man, who appears extremely serious, as someone he encountered nearly a century ago, and indicates this wordlessly to Oscar. Raj meanwhile promises to stay with Elsie, as the woman addresses the group hungrily, and he then pulls out a vial of acid. As the woman approaches, Oscar asks Rajan what to do, and Rajan simply tells the Circle they must fight to survive. As Cosmo watches, the woman transforms into a monstrous creature with many mouths and approaches them. Cosmo pulls out a brass dagger from his wheelchair, impaling his own hand, and the dagger glows blue as he holds it out. The Great Maw pounces, but he is able to stab her with the Ghostblade as she attacks, both injuring each other. Elsie manages to transform at will this time rather than out of anxiety, and addresses the Circle in, what is unbeknownst to her, Ancient Fairen. She positions herself between The Great Maw and Cosmo. Madam Glask runs behind Cosmo to pull him further back and begins to apply pressure to his injuries with her shawl.

Oscar is somewhat disoriented due to his recent death, and The Serious Man locks eyes with him. Oscar recognizes him as the person responsible for his immortal status. Rajan looks at Elsie, awed by her, and turns back to the Great Maw and remembers a rhyme that also serves as a spell of binding in the voices of his mother and sister. He begins to speak it.

Mother Mercy, ensconced in white
Tends the hungry, day and night
Loving mother to the poor
Dare not enter through her door.

Mind this verse, lest you should meet
Mind her smile and mind her teeth.
Your name is known to me, Great Maw
Now unbind us from tooth and claw.

— Rajan Savarimuthu, to The Great Maw[1]

He begins to loosen his clothing as he does, and The Great Maw yells for him to stop as he begins the second verse. Her mouths begin to shut as he finishes it. Elsie, in beast form, takes this opportunity to drive her claw into The Maw's chest and crush her lungs, which, by crushing the breath, destroys the creature's soul as well. Elsie returns to herself. The enthralled patient continues to hit the wall, and Oscar attacks The Serious Man but misses. Raj, also recognizing the serious man, slashes through his garments with a sharp ring and reveals a insect hive built into his body. He tells the locusts within him, which The Great Maw afflicted him with, to attack The Serious Man. They swarm him, but Oscar calls for Rajan to stop before The Serious Man is killed. Rajan is unconscious, but Elsie revives him and he is able to stop the swarm, telling them to leave The Serious Man alive. They drop to the ground. Madam Glask asks Cosmo why they are keeping The Serious Man alive, and he indicates Oscar is his father and The Serious Man is important to their past. Oscar inspects the nearly-dead body, recalling how The Serious Man performed a ritual on his ship. He asks Elsie to stabilize him so he can get answers, but Elsie stabilizes Cosmo, who is still bleeding badly from his injuries.

Oscar brings The Serious Man up the hole, followed by the rest of the Circle, and everyone is able to make it back to The Antiquarian, but not before Rajan uses his Core Sampler weapon to mercy kill the thrall.

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

Circle of Tide & Bone[edit | edit source]

New[edit | edit source]

These characters have not previously appeared in Candela Obscura, though they may have been previously mentioned.

Mentioned[edit | edit source]

  • Aadtika Savarimuthu, Rajan's sister
  • Rahema, a nun close to Rajan's family in his childhood

Quotations[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "The Antiquarian" (CO3x01) at 3:59:07.